If you’re a fan of Mounds bars, you’ll LOVE these simple 4-ingredient vegan, Paleo, low FODMAP & GAPS-friendly coconut cacao balls.
They’re the perfect sweet treat for any time of year – but I personally love making these during the winter and holiday season, since my family likes to call them “chocolate snowballs”. 😀
(Updated January 30, 2023)
Coconut + cacao… need I say more?!
This flavor combo is basically the perfect storm of rich decadent cacao, creamy coconut, and just the right amount of sweetness!
Coconut gives a nice burst of flavor, to complement the chocolaltey cacao and sweet honey/maple – and it will also provide fats and fiber to keep you feeling satiated and sustained.
As an added bonus, coconut oil is naturally high in monolaurin, a special constituent in certain gut health supplements which helps us fight off certain “bad” strains of bacteria by breaking down their biofilms. (1)
I use raw cacao (the less processed version of cocoa powder) because it tastes very similar to cocoa but it’s significantly higher in blood-building and bone-building minerals like iron, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous.
- Just two tablespoons of raw cacao powder offers a whopping 35% daily value of magnesium, 427 milligrams of potassium, 15% daily value iron, PLUS 13% daily value of zinc and over half a day’s worth each of copper and manganese. Not to mention 6 grams of fiber!
Oh… did I mention all of these micronutrients happen to be vital for blood pressure, immunity, energy metabolism and more?
This recipe calls for half a cup of cacao powder. I’ll let you do the math!
Liquid sweetener: honey or maple?
This recipe also calls for a liquid sweetener – I typically use either raw honey or real maple syrup. I love both, for different reasons. Depending on what’s going on in your body, or personal preference, you may prefer one over the other. Feel free to check out my perspectives on each of them, below.
Honey to me is like liquid gold! Flavor profiles aside, I love the sticky texture of this sweetener for this reicpe – it makes everything stay together really easily.
But what about honey from a gut health standpoint? (Of course we need to go there!) 😉
On the one hand, honey is lower in sucrose (ideal for people with a sucrose intolerance), high in antioxidants and prebiotics, and potentially beneficial for many people wanting to optimize their gut health – as long as they don’t have a fructose intolerance. (Read more about the potential benefits of honey for IBS here!)
On the other hand, honey is high in fructose which makes it a high FODMAP sweetener. (FODMAPs are specific types of carbohydrates which can ferment in the gut, triggering IBS symptoms in some people.)
Honey is also very high in glycemic index, meaning it will spike your blood sugar very quickly. (This is releveant for some people with diabetes, who need to keep their blood sugar under tight control.)
If you’re looking for a natural liquid sweetener that’s lower in FODMAPs and lower in glycemic index, maple syrup may be a better fit for you.
You’ve probably seen maple syrup (not including Eggo & Mrs. Butterworths) in a bunch of my recipes.
Flavors aside, some people prefer maple syrup instead of honey when making these coconut cacao balls because maple is lower glycemic (has less of an impact on blood sugar), but it still gives a very delicate sweetness and it’s loaded with certain minerals such as magnesium and manganese!
From a gut health standpoint, maple syrup is a low FODMAP sweetener (as long as you’re keeping it under 2 tablespoons at a time), so it’s a great option for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) who are navigating a low FODMAP diet.
If you have a sucrose intolerance, honey is a better choice for this recipe since maple syrup is a high-sucrose food.
Without further ado, feel free to check out this recipe for coconut cacao balls, below!
Vegan Coconut Cacao Balls
- Measuring cups, mixing bowl, mixing spoon, aluminum foil /parchment paper and baking sheet
- 1/2 cup cacao powder
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup maple syrup GAPS: swap for raw honey
- 2 cups shredded coconut plus more for coating
- Melt coconut oil and then combine in a bowl with cacao powder.
- Add maple syrup then add 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut.
- Mix thoroughly until uniform.
- Coat a baking sheet with aluminum or wax/parchment paper.
- Roll "dough" into tablespoon sized balls, then roll in additional coconut.
- Place final snowballs onto baking sheet.
- Cover and store in fridge for up to a week, OR freezer for up to a month.